Bradley Beal, the Wizards’ $128 million dollar man, led Washington to a 95-92 win over the Atlanta Hawks, the team’s first win of the season. Beal had just 2 rebounds and 3 assists, but he scored 28 points, including 12 in the 4th quarter, to lift the team. He got the job done in a variety of ways. He got to the free throw line 14 times, attempted eight threes, had several successful drives, and put together some nifty crossover-to-midrange shots, as he put together one of the most well-rounded scoring games of his career.
The first quarter started off as well as you could have wanted. The Wizards held the Hawks scoreless for over four minutes as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead. But after they put in the bench unit, the Hawks were able to start their comeback and end the first quarter tied at 19.
The Wizards made a more decisive surge in the second quarter, jumping out to a 16 point lead. They were communicating, committed and energized throughout the quarter as they outscored the Hawks 29-16.
The Hawks clawed their way back into the game, but with about 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Beal put together turned a nice double crossover into a midrange shot to get them back on track. You could tell he was starting to feel himself again. The Wizards’ other main man, John Wall, chipped in 7 in the quarter. Together, they combined for 15 out of the team’s 23 points in the quarter.
All the Wizards needed to do in the fourth quarter was hold on to their 7 point lead, but being the Wizards, you know they had to make it interesting. The Hawks got within 3 thanks to a Kyle Korver three with 45 seconds left, but the Wizards were able to hold on for a much-needed win.
The Wizards’ dynamic backcourt led the way, especially when things got rough in the second half. Beal and Wall combined for 33 of the team’s 47 second half points. Marcin Gortat also had a good night with 12 points and 15 rebounds, even though he still had a tough time containing Dwight Howard who had 20 points and 12 rebounds of his own.
Washington had to overcome another rough night from their bench, who only scored 8 points in the win.
Here’s what we noticed from this Friday night game:
The Wizards need Mahinmi back
Jason Smith is not a terrible player, but he is a third big for a reason. After starting with a 9-0 lead, the bench came in and the lead evaporated. A big reason why is because of a dearth of interior defense. Ian Mahinmi would help with that. In addition, when the offense was clicking and the defense was humming in the 2nd quarter, Smith came in for a foul-plagued Gortat and committed two terrible turnovers and two bad fouls with less than 2:30 left in the half. While the Wizards were able to survive that stretch. Smith committed two more deflating fouls early in the early 4th quarter, finishing with 5 fouls in 13 minutes. Mahinmi’s experience playing with and against 1st and 2nd unit players should be a huge upgrade once he returns.
Brooks is open to adjusting and trying new things
One of the big knocks on Randy Wittman last year was his reluctance to adjust when things were going well. While many had reservations about how different Brooks will be, tonight’s game was a good sign that he won’t follow the same patters. After only 3 games, Brooks realized that Kelly Oubre was not ready for game action and put out a lineup of Burke, Thornton, Satoransky, Nicholson, and Smith.
Brooks opted for another 3 guard lineup of Wall, Beal, Satoransky, Morris, and Gortat later in the second quarter that worked well. In the 3rd quarter, Brooks brought Sato in as the first sub, to play with Wall, Beal, Porter and Gortat. Later in the 3rd quarter, Brooks even tried a Beal, Thornton, Sato, Porter, Morris lineup. These lineups had varying degrees of success, but just knowing that Brooks is willing to adjust and try new things should be celebrated after the past 4 years.
Markieff Morris had a strong game on both ends
Markieff Morris blocked a shot on the first possession of the game and set the tone for the impact he’d have throughout the game. He tormented the Hawks with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, and fantastic defense on Paul Millsap, who shot 5-14 from the field.
Turnovers and the 4th quarter continue to plague this team
After 3 games, the Wizards are the most turnover prone team in the NBA with 18 per game. Last game, Wall had 9 TO’s himself. After gaining a big lead in the 2nd quarter and maintaining a 7 point lead going into the 4th, the Hawks came back within 2 in the 4th quarter thanks to some
The untimely turnovers and stagnant offense that plagued the Wizards in the first three games came back to haunt them late tonight. They held the Hawks off thanks to Beal’s big fourth quarter, but if they keep stagnating and slowing down in the closing minutes, they won’t always be this lucky.